Tryptophan – properties, demand and sources of occurrence

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body can not create itself and should be supplied with a diet.He is responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system, and its deficiencies cause a drop in energy, worse mood and even depression.Tryptophan can also be helpful in slimming – it helps control your appetite for carbohydrates.Most of it can be found in meat, fish, dairy products and legume seeds.

The role of tryptophan in the body

Tryptophan belongs to the essential amino acids (essential), that is compounds that are not produced in the body and must be delivered to it along with the diet.It is necessary for the production of proteins, enzymes and muscle tissue.Tryptophan has many functions in the body and they belong to them

  • participation in the production of serotonin, the so-calledhappiness hormone,
  • participation in the production of melatonin, or the hormone responsible for the circadian rhythm of the body,
  • participation in biosynthesis of niacin (PP vitamins),
  • reduction of hyperactivity and tension, mood regulation,
  • participation in the reproduction process,
  • effects on lactation,
  • production of kinurein, a chemical UV filter produced in the eyeball,
  • participation in the synthesis of rhodopsin, a photosensitive dye that allows vision after dark,
  • effects on the nervous system, regulation of neurotransmitters levels of noradrenaline, dopamine and β-endorphin,
  • regulation of metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism,
  • improvement of immunity.


Tryptophan helpful in the treatment of depression

Tryptophan is converted in the brain to serotonin – a neurotransmitter called the hormone of happiness.Without an adequate amount of the precursor, or tryptophan, there is a deficiency of serotonin in the body, which is manifested by mood dips, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, increased sensitivity to pain, and ultimately depressive disorders.Serotonin is also responsible for impulsive behavior, sexual needs and the regulation of appetite – it inhibits the consumption of carbohydrates, and increases after eating proteins.In the treatment of depression, drugs are used in the group of reuptake serotonin, which cause that the same amount of this neurotransmitter works longer and more intensely.In order to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, it is beneficial to take tryptophan in the form of supplements.

The strong influence of the appropriate level of tryptophan on depression was confirmed by artificially inducing a deficiency of this amino acid in the blood plasma of two groups of women – healthy and suffering from bulimia.In both groups, the severity of depression symptoms was noticed.When studying alcoholics treated, they found low levels of tryptophan in the blood with frequent decreases in mood.Supplementation with tryptophan over 2-4 weeks showed significant efficacy in the fight against depression.


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Worth knowing

Probably the consumption of tryptophan-containing food products does not directly translate into the serotonin concentration in the body, because the amount of tryptophan relative to other amino acids is too low to be well absorbed by the blood-brain barrier.Colloquially speaking, tryptophan from food loses competition for absorption with other amino acids.Therefore, supplementation affects the increase in the level of tryptophan and its metabolites in the brain, at the same time reducing the depressive states.

The effect of tryptophan on body weight

Obese people tend to often reach for carbohydrate products.They favor the production of serotonin, so after eating it improves the mood.Eating large amounts of carbohydrates results in increased insulin secretion and faster removal of some amino acids from the bloodstream.And this in turn promotes greater absorption of tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier.It turns out, therefore, that the low level of tryptophan in the blood induces a desire to eat carbohydrates.This can be used in the reverse direction to reduce the calorie content of the diet – a high level of tryptophan in the plasma is conducive to reducing appetite for carbohydrate products, without limiting the appetite for protein products.Probably supplementation with tryptophan improves the release of serotonin in the brain, which reduces appetite for carbohydrates.Administration of obese patients an hour before a meal of tryptophan at doses of 1.2 and 3 mg resulted in a reduction in the amount of calories consumed.During the study conducted on people on a high protein diet, where one group took tryptophan at 750 mg twice a day and the other group – a placebo, significant decreases in body weight were demonstrated using tryptophan.

Daily demand for tryptophan – norms

  • for babies up to 12 months of age – 13 mg per kilogram of body weight,
  • for children from 1 to 3 years of age – 8 mg / kg,
  • for children from 4 to 13 years old – 6 mg / kg,
  • for boys from 14 to 18 years old – 6 mg / kg,
  • for girls from 14 to 18 years – 5 mg / kg,
  • for adults – 5 mg / kg

The effects of deficiency and excess tryptophan

The deficiency of tryptophan in the diet may be manifested by mood decreases, growth retardation, anemia, decrease of blood protein level (hypoproteinemia), loss of hair, skin sclerosis, periorgular vascular growth, hepatic steatosis, degeneration of seminal tubules in men, smooth muscle degeneration and inhibition of lactation.

Excess tryptophan in the body may be the result of overuse supplementation and is manifested by nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, dry mouth, impaired coordination of movements and blurred vision.


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